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Policing Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Metropolitan Environments

NCJ Number
Tracy Cussen; Jason Payne; David Marks
Date Published
120 pages
This report presents the findings and methodology of Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) research on issues and challenges of policing alcohol and illicit drug use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in metropolitan areas, with attention to implications for policing.
The study found that Indigenous people are less likely than non-indigenous people to consume alcohol and use illicit substances; however, those Indigenous people who do consume alcoholic beverages and use illicit drugs are more likely to do so at high levels and in risky ways, such as use in public spaces and by injection. Alcoholic beverages and cannabis are the principal drugs of concern for both Indigenous and non-indigenous people living in metropolitan and other areas. This suggests that prevention and treatment should focus on these substances. The available data on substance use and offending indicate that Indigenous people in metropolitan locations are overrepresented relative to their proportion of the population, but they compose only a fraction of the overall number of offenses known by police in any 1 year. In addition, offenses known to police that are committed by Indigenous people are more likely to be identified as alcohol-related rather than drug-related. The opposite was true for offenses committed by non-Indigenous people. This study argues that although Indigenous people commit only a small percentage of alcohol-related and drug-related offenses, the rationale for focusing alcohol/drug prevention and enforcement on this population is the disproportionate impact it has on their already disadvantaged socioeconomic condition. The report recommends that policing services that address this issue should stem from a framework that incorporates problem solving, intelligence data, and community-based approaches that include partnerships with alcohol/drug treatment services. Police in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia contributed to the research through an online survey and/or focus group consultations. 41 tables, 13 figures, approximately 80 references, and appended study instruments